Daniel Bianchi was recently awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Bioethics and Medical Jurisprudence by the University of Manchester in the UK after defending a thesis entitled ‘Advance directives in healthcare: measures that support persons in exercising their legal capacity?’.

Bianchi’s PhD thesis deals with advance directives (ADs) in healthcare. ADs are instruments that can transpose the legal effect of a decision, such as a refusal of treatment, to a time as directed in the AD or as set out in law. This typically enables a person to make a decision when he or she has decision-making capacity in order for that decision to be lawfully applied after the onset of its maker’s decision-making incapacity.

After postulating that this traditional use of ADs is not easily adaptable in every legal system,  Bianchi’s thesis presents an alternative account of ADs so as to specifically address the obligation in Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) to provide access by people with disabilities to the support they may require in exercising their legal capacity.

In order to do this, though, the thesis first acknowledges the different interpretations of Article 12 of the UNCRPD in the academic literature and then proposes a mechanism to test the coherence or incoherence of some of the assertions in the academic literature about Article 12 against the scope and limits of that provision.

By subsequently framing the questions that must be posed to establish with legal certainty when and how ADs can address the obligations of support arising from Article 12 of the UNCRPD, states parties to the UNCRPD are given reason in the thesis to reconsider the regulation of ADs if only to also address the obligations of support arising from Article 12. This is significant in view of Bianchi’s finding that ADs, as a form of support in the context of Article 12 of the UNCRPD, are not necessarily the same as the traditional account of ADs transposing the legal effect of a decision from time A to time B.

The research was funded in part by the Malta Government Scholarship Scheme (MGSS).

Bianchi is a lawyer and a full-time lecturer in healthcare law at the University of Malta’s Faculty of Laws. He also tutors European healthcare law at the University of Edinburgh. He is Malta’s national contact point at the European Association of Health Law.

In addition to his PhD at the University of Manchester,  Bianchi also holds a BA (legal & humanistic studies) and an LL.D from the University of Malta, an LL.M in international law from the University of Edinburgh and an MA in healthcare ethics and law from the University of Manchester.

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